Highland Wildlife Fair breaks new ground

The first Highland Wildlife Fair held in Inverness on Saturday attracted over 300 people and throughout the day the 30 stallholders were flat out answering questions, sharing information and getting new volunteers signed up to help with their projects.

Highland Biodiversity Officer Jonathan Willet said: “The location in the atrium of the UHI Beechwood Campus building was excellent, there was lots of space to move round the stalls and plenty spaces to sit for chat and catch up with people you hadn’t seen for years. Throughout the day there was a hubbub of conversation and chatter, which didn’t end until the stallholders started packing up and even then knots of people were still blethering. Many of the stall holders commented that their conversations with other organisations had proven to be very productive and some great connections were made. “

The morning and afternoon lectures were very well attended with 115 attending over the two sessions. There were lots of excellent questions from the audience that were answered well by the speakers. Some of the projects were really exciting such as the Trees for Life, Red Squirrel Translocation Project. Thirty three squirrels were captured from the central Highlands and health checked and then released in the woods near Sheildaig in early April of this year. If they do as well as the Dundonnell squirrels then within 6 years there could be 400 Red Squirrels in that part of Wester Ross.  

Delegates also heard about the work to control non-native invasive plant species locally, the Wildcat project, Sustainable Urban Drainage Ponds and Amphibians in Inverness, Bats in the Highlands and the soon to be launched Great Crested Newt survey see http://www.arc-trust.org/scottish.html . The West Sutherland Fisheries Trust showed a great video, shot from a drone, of their volunteers pulling in the net to capture Sea Trout for tagging.

Marcia Rae from the Highland Council along with Karen Thomson lead people on two guided walks round the campus grounds to look at the SUDS ponds that have been created. The group were delighted to see swans nesting in the ponds and enjoyed the chance to walk around the wildlife friendly landscaping in the grounds. Although the 47 that braved the two walks were just about frozen solid by the cold north wind, the Swallows and House Martins hawking for insects over the ponds didn’t seem to think it was winter.

Jonathan Willet added: “We are very fortunate in the Highlands to have so many projects underway and such enthusiastic and engaging speakers. I’d like to thank everyone who came along to support the first Highland Wildlife Fair and all the guest speakers and stall holders. Due to the success of the event, the Highland Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group has decided that the Fair will be run again in two years’ time.”

 If you would like to join the Highland Biodiversity mailing list for this event and also receive other information relating to the biodiversity projects underway in the Highlands then contact Caroline Vawdrey at  highlandenvironmentforum@gmail.com

20 Apr 2016
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